Hyderabad: An all-party delegation called on Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan at Raj Bhavan on Thursday seeking his intervention to stop shifting of Dharna Chowk from Indira Park to the city’s outskirts.
The delegation comprised of TPCC President N. Uttam Kumar Reddy, Telangana TDP president L. Ramana, Telangana BJP President Dr. K. Lakshman, CPI (M) State Secretary Chada Venkat Reddy, TDP MLA R. Krishnaiah, MRPS President Manda Krishna Madiga and representatives of over 15 organisations.
“Dharna Chowk has been in existence for over two decades. Many groups used this space to articulate their concerns and to strengthen democratic culture in the state. All over the world democratic countries have been offering places in the midst of the cities to express dissent.
In Delhi Jantar-Mantar has long been the epicenter for any peaceful expression of dissent in the form of dharnas, rallies, public meetings, relay hunger strikes etc., irrespective of the government or the ruling party in power at the centre.
Jantar-Mantar has been a witness to historic movements, which were a beautiful democratic expression of dissent either criticizing or seeking the respective governments of the time to take action, or to implore that it is lagging behind and needs to step up to do justice to the specific aggrieved group,” the opposition leaders said in their joint memorandum to the Governor.
The opposition leaders said that Telangana itself was formed after a revolution of at least 60 years of simmering discontent, rampant bias, unequal treatment and despair, where several democratic displays of dissent in the form of Sagara Haram, Sakala Janula Samme, Million March, etc.,
came about and led to the fruition and dawn of Telangana State. “Now, the state government has deliberately, and with every intention to snuff out dissent has decided to move the Dharna Chowk from Indira Park, which again has been the epicenter of the latest Telangana agitation that led to the emergence of the new state, to the periphery of the city, on the outskirts.
This is nothing but a deliberate attempt by the present state government to snuff out any exhibition of displeasure, dissatisfaction or dissent by the people of this state,” they alleged.
Speaking to media persons after meeting the Governor, Uttam Kumar Reddy told reporters that the Article 19 of the Constitution of India mandates the fundamental right of the citizen of this country to freely express himself (freedom of expression) and 19 (1)(b) clearly bestows the fundamental right to assemble to every citizen of this country and to peacefully exhibit his/her protest and dissent.
“The recent attempt by the State Government to obstruct and deliberately not give any form of permission to conduct a peaceful dharna is a violation of the very fundamentals of democracy, right to expression and freedom of speech and assembly, Not allowing any protest to take place in the heart of the city which has seen several protests by the ruling party itself during the Telangana agitation smacks of hypocrisy,” he said.
Uttam Kumar Reddy said that the Supreme Court mandates that only absolute minimal and reasonable restrictions ought to be imposed to see that ‘law and order’ is maintained while a peaceful democratic assembly is protesting and not overtly try to snuff out the absolute right to democratic dissent.
“The State Government in its authoritarian, dictatorial mode of operating has now chosen to actually remove Dharna Chowk that has been the seminal epicenter in the city for several protests to the out skirts thus effectively eliminating democratic space for any dissent,” he said.
He said that the all-party delegation has urged upon the Governor to intervene to retain Dharna Chowk at Indira Park. He said that the Governor has assured to take up the matter with the government. (INN)